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What is Next for Mac Jones and the New England Patriots?

Bruce McLaren

Mac Jones makes a tricky pass.


Something is wrong with the New England Patriots. This is not an easy thing to admit, as we have seen this franchise produce over twenty years of dominance in the NFL. The Patriots stand at 2-7 going into week 10 and are in last place in the AFC. This is territory we haven’t seen New England in since the mid-90s, as the last time the Patriots had a top-five pick was in 1994. The Patriots have only scored over 20 points this season one time against the Bills in a game that they won. 


Offensive Issues:

There are glaring issues on the offense, which is where I think the major changes need to be made. The first thing that many fans will point to offensively for New England is the quarterback, Mac Jones. Jones has not been a positive on offense this year, as he is tied for the most in the NFL with 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. It is certainly crucial for the Patriots to evaluate and decide whether he will be their guy for the upcoming seasons. Personally, I have not seen anything that shows them that he should be. 


The wide receivers are another glaring issue. There are only two guys on the wide receiving core who have been consistent so far this season, namely Kendrick Bourne and Demario ‘Pop’ Douglas. Bourne tore his ACL last week in the game against Miami, and this week against Washington, we truly saw how thin the Pats are at wide receiver specifically. Douglas, on the other hand, has looked like a gem that the Patriots found in this year’s draft as he has been making all kinds of explosive plays for New England, a rare bright spot in this year’s offense. The other receivers, however, have been extremely disappointing, as the supposed “big-name” signing of the offseason for New England, Juju Smith-Schuster, has been horrible. He only has 140 yards receiving and one touchdown so far this year, including a huge drop that led to an interception at the end of the Commanders' game. Juju was chosen over Jakobi Myers, who is excelling for the Las Vegas Raiders, with 442 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season. Devante Parker, Jalen Reagor, and Kayshon Boutte have little to nothing to show for themselves either on the receiving end. Boutte specifically hasn’t played since week one, which may have to do with his inability to catch a potential game-winning throw at the end of the Eagles game. 


The offensive line has also been a major issue throughout the season, mainly because of injuries, as they have allowed 18 sacks so far this season. The run blocking has been equally bad, as the Pats are only gaining 3.9 yards per carry. Guard Sidy Sow and tackles Trent Brown and Mike Onwenu have been bright spots in the last few weeks, as Belichick decided to change Onwenu from guard to tackle before the Buffalo game, though, and these players could be people that they can build off of and use as building blocks for the future.. 


Defensive Issues/Front Office Decisions

The defense this year has been around average, with the secondary having some injury-related and other struggles. The other main concern of Pats fans has been the front office, specifically with Bill Belichick. That being said, I think that the claims for Belichick to be fired as a coach are laughable, as he has eight Super Bowl rings and has brought over twenty years of success for the Patriots. However, his personnel decisions have been questionable at some points, as Belichick is not only the head coach of the Patriots but is also the general manager. For example, I mentioned that Belichick decided to sign Juju Smith-Schuster over Jakobi Myers this offseason, which has been refuted this season by fans and statistics. We have also seen him bench Kayson Boutte this season, which I disagree with, as we will not be able to see how he can develop without him playing in games, especially when we can see that the Patriots will clearly not be making the playoffs. 


Conclusion

So, what is next for the Patriots and Mac Jones? Well, if I were advising Robert Kraft, the owner of the Pats, I would do one of two things in the upcoming offseason. The first option that I would give Kraft is to make significant changes in the roster, specifically at the QB position. Kirk Cousins is a free agent this offseason and could be an option, or if Kraft wants to have Belichick draft a young QB in the draft (where they’ll likely have a top-five pick), that can be an option, too. The other option that Kraft has is to go into a complete rebuild and fire Bill Belichick, which I would not want. If the Patriots continue to display a poor product, though, this could happen. Overall, the Patriots have many options at the end of this year, and although they are not a good football team at the moment, being a bad football team could be exactly what they need to improve in years to come.

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